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Concurrent Resolution On The Budget For Fiscal Year 2010 - Conference Report

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GRAHAM. I thank the Chair.

I rise today to speak about the budget and the debate we are having in the Senate about the budget. Quite frankly, if you asked me to give a scenario that would best explain what a politician thinks about life and politics, I would say: Let them write a budget. When you give a political leader the opportunity to sit down and spend money coming from the taxpayer, it tells you a lot about their priorities, it tells you a lot about how they view the role of Government. And I am here to say that this budget is not good news for the American taxpayer.

Today marks the anniversary of the President's first 100 days, and I think the biggest accomplishment in the first 100 is a budget that is transformational in terms of how it transforms the country in a way that I don't think is healthy.

The one thing we have had going for us as Americans, from one generation to the next, is the hope and belief that the ones to follow--our kids and grandkids--would have a chance to do better; that we would do what is right and what is necessary on our watch so they would have a chance to do better. If this budget passes, you are going to have a hard time looking the next generation of Americans in the eye and saying: You are going to have a chance to do better than people alive here today.

What this budget does is it doubles the national debt. President Obama's proposal, a 10-year budget--I will give him credit for making it a 10-year window--triples the national debt. This budget creates more debt for America in the first 100 days of the Obama administration than every President since George Washington combined. We have spent, in the first 100 days, $12 billion a day. We are running up the deficit and the debt at an alarming rate, and we are growing the size of the Government in a way that future generations are going to have to pay for.

The question for the country, if this budget passes, is this: Are we creating a government that is sustainable by the next generation? Can the next generation, with this budget in place, have a chance of doing better than we have? I don't think so. I really don't. And I never thought I would hear myself say that.

As we look down the road, we see how the budget explodes the national debt and the deficit--67 percent of the debt held by the public as a percentage of GDP. That is what happens under the Obama budget in 2014. This is a 5-year budget, and we have ignored some of the things we know we are going to do to make the numbers look better because the President's budget was so large and so unnerving in terms of long-term indebtedness.

The worst that Bush did--and we did not do a good job on our watch as Republicans--was to have a $500 billion deficit.

The best this budget does, 10 years from now, is about $600 billion, and we sustain trillion-dollar deficits for several years. But the percentage of publicly held debt relative to GDP, gross domestic product, is going to be 67 percent down the road. That is Third World nation status.

The budget is a 5-year budget. The numbers look better, but we have not done anything to fix the doctor reimbursement problem, the last 2 years of the AMT fix are not included, and we are expanding the Make Work Pay tax credit. What we have done is mask the real cost of what we know is going to be there after 5 years.

The budget that was proposed by the President triples the national debt and increases taxes by $1 trillion on people who make over $250,000 a year. That may sound good because I don't make $250,00 a year. Maybe 2 or 3 years of my entire life I have. I am the first person in my family to go to college. My dad and mom owned a liquor store. We had a middle-class lifestyle at best, but we were happy. I never looked across the street at the person who owned the big business in town and had the nice house as my enemy. They are not.

In a recession and a global economy that is on its knees, if we start raising taxes on American business people, they are going to look to take their business somewhere else. To go from 35 percent to 39.5 percent on people who earn over $250,000 is in theory more money for the Government, but it is less money for the people who have taken a huge risk to create a business. The day we start punishing people and rewarding the Government for the risks they take is the day America gets off track.

Raising the capital gains rates, as this budget does, from 15 to 20 percent, will make it less likely that people will engage in entrepreneurial activity. But one thing John Kennedy understood is, low tax rates generate business activities that actually generate more money for the Government. So what we are doing is raising taxes, and we are playing class warfare.

The defense spending in President Obama's budget over a 10-year period went to 3 percent of gross domestic product. It is about 4.5 or 4.6 percent now. That would put us on the low end, in the Nation's history, for defense spending. So liberals raise taxes, and they cut defense at a time when I think we can't afford to do either.

The world, to me, in the next 10 years is not going to be safer unless we act. Iran and North Korea are pursuing nuclear programs that could jeopardize our lives as we know it. The one thing I can tell you about Iraq and Afghanistan, we made plenty of mistakes, but we have the best trained, best equipped military in the world, and that really does matter. We are going to win in Iraq if we continue the course we are on, and we are going to turn Afghanistan around, but it is going to take blood and treasure.

The one thing I am not looking for from an American perspective is a fair fight. When we go to war--and sometimes that is required to protect the national interest--we need to go to win, and we need to overwhelm the enemy. We need to have technology they do not. We need to have more troops than they do. We need to have equipment that can destroy their equipment without destroying our people. That requires investment. The whole world is reducing their defense budgets.

Our NATO allies spend less on defense combined than we do. Like it or not, we are the arsenal of democracy, and now is not the time to reduce the arsenal and to be cheap on defense and grow the domestic side of Government. We need butter and we need guns, but let me tell you right now we need a lot of guns in the world we are about to inherit in the next 10 years.

Finally, the increase in domestic spending puts the country on an
unsustainable path, and the next generation is going to have to pay for this big government. To pay for it we are going to have to raise their taxes. To make it all work we are cutting defense.

There is a better way. Let's keep taxes competitive and as low as possible, realizing we have a government to run. Let's spend wisely. Let's reform health care so the Government doesn't become the one group in the country that decides what doctor we can see and what the doctor makes and what kind of treatment we get.

This climate change issue is real, in my opinion. I think manmade emissions, CO2 emissions, are heating up the planet. In the President's budget he was going to put a $646 billion cap-and-trade tax on industry and American consumers--$3,100 per family--at a time when we could ill afford it. That was taken out of the budget. That is good news. But what I am trying to say to my Democratic colleagues is, this is your Government now. You run this place. The problems in the past, the mistakes made by Republicans are real. You don't fix those mistakes by spending more money than we did. You don't fix the problems that America faces for the next generation by growing the Government at a pace and a level you can't pay for down the road unless you have to give up some of your hopes and dreams.

There is a role for Government. There is a role for us in health care. There is a role for us to play in the economy of our times: to help business and to be a safety net for those who have lost their jobs. But we are about to pass a budget that will increase the national debt, double what we have today. There will be a day in 2014 when we will spend more money paying the interest on the national debt than the entire Defense Department budget. That is not healthy for this country.

We have done nothing to reform Medicare or Social Security. We are talking about $1 trillion more in spending on health care when we spend more than any nation in the world.

We are going to pass this budget. It is my hope the American people will weigh in. The stimulus package was $787 billion of spending--a lot of growth in Government and very few jobs created. You need to speak out. You need to get involved. You need to tell us all, Republicans and Democrats: I expect you to collect taxes from me. I expect you to offer services to me and my family. But I do not expect you to make it so that my children and my grandchildren cannot have the life I have had. I expect you to do what I am doing, tighten your belt and set priorities.

This is your Government at the end of the day. It is fashionable and appropriate to criticize political leadership. But in a democracy, when you look in the mirror, that is ``we the people.'' So for America to change it is going to require Americans to demand it from both of us, Republicans and Democrats. I believe in you. Your Government is dysfunctional. It will be made better if you want it to be. There are people here listening. Speak out before it is too late.


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